How National Geographic Improved Following INSTA-ntly

Today, millions of young people sit on their phones reading Twitter, scrolling through Instagram, and clicking through Pinterest. But what grabs their attention? Tweets with links to magazine articles? Maybe. Tweets about free stuff or the chance to WIN free stuff? Definitely.

A survey done by the MPA revealed that readers love promotions and giveaways, and they are a big part of their interest in following a magazine on social media. Incentives of any kind will draw people to a specific user’s social media account.

According to Lauren Wasley, “Contesting can be highly effective when executed as part of a broader public relations and marketing campaign, but no campaign can rely solely on this tactic. What’s great about contests is they provide a way to reach new and existing fans through the channels they use, which today is often social media platforms.”


A well recognized magazine, National Geographic, took advantage of the “giveaway” idea.

National Geographic also owns a cable television channel: National Geographic Channel. The channel broadcast a mini-series, called Untamed Americas. This show focused on the beauty of the Americas. National Geographic then challenged viewers to show them their “untamed America” by posting wildlife photos and landscape images from their own backyards (hometown, literal backyard, etc) on Instagram. Users just had to use #UntamedAmericas on their Instagram photos to be entered to win.

3 judges, Casey Anderson, Cole Rise, and Cynthia Drescher chose the winning photo (pictured below).


The winner’s photo was displayed on Nat Geo’s website and they received Instagram-worthy prizes including (info taken from

  • a National Geographic camera bag filled with a Nikon D3100 SLR Digital Camera with 18-55mm VR & 55-200mm VR Lenses & basic kit
  • a Glif (a fantastic tool for iphoneography)
  • a subscription to National Geographic Magazine
  • a National Geographic Channel Jacket, Hat, Water Bottle, Binoculars
  • “Untamed Americas” DVDs
  • a limited edition signed print by Cole Rise.

According to PR News Daily, “Over 6,900 photos were submitted with the hashtag #UntamedAmericas in just over five weeks. Followers on Instagram increased by 55% from 10,781 to 16,817, average likes/photo increased by 205% from 126.2 to 384.81 and average comments/photo increased by 239% percent from 3.5 to 11.88.”

By just looking at those numbers, it can be seen how successful these contests can be. Magazines should be willing to try these contests/giveaways and reap the benefits!


4 thoughts on “How National Geographic Improved Following INSTA-ntly

  1. National Geographic was really smart with this social media marketing campaign. Social media users love to submit content to companies they follow on Twitter, and if these companies use small incentives to increase valuable UGC, it can really help increase their online following. For example, I retweeted a picture on Twitter that helped MTV’s Off the Leash gain publicity online earlier today, while I was entered for a chance to win a signed baseball from the Orioles’ Adam Jones.

    National Geographic did something that I really like, and something that would get me to submit a picture for their campaign. They not only offered big prizes like a Nikon camera, but also offered many smaller prizes, which would make me think I’d have a better chance of at least winning something. Fun, non-gimmicky incentives work for me.

    Love the blog so far Christina! You do a great job of curating and presenting the information. Great use of white space and great presentation!


  2. I follow National Geographic on Instagram, and although I did follow based on their regularly posted content, I LOVE moments like this one (however I don’t remember ever seeing this contest…and I’m pretty bummed about it!). An Instragram campaign like this not only gains new followers, but rewards existing followers. Attracting followers is one task, but keeping them as a loyal follower is another battle. I love campaigns that create UGC. It creates a valuable experience for the creators, great publicity and brand awareness for the magazine or company, and makes everyone happy! I think you did a fabulous job of illustrating this great relationship between a magazine and a follower/reader. Contests and giveaways may seem expensive and pointless at first, but the publicity they get in incredibly valuable. You expressed just this, nice work!

  3. I am really enjoying your blog so far, Christina! You have a lovely setup and very interesting and intriguing graphics. Like Brian has mentioned, you use white space in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and looks like it took hours to create. Your color scheme is pretty and eye-catching! Great job there! This article is super fascinating as well. I see reposts on Instagram all the time about winning free things and people seems to really get into it!

  4. I really like your blog Christina! You have been able to show content nicely without the bell and whistles! I overall enjoy your topics you’ve picked for your articles and learning more and more as I continue to read. I think your graphics are really esthetically pleasing and capture your overall message without overdoing it! Where do you get your graphics? Have you been using a blog calendar as well? Overall, I agree with Jessica and Brian, you have great images!

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